With all the injuries Leeds United have dealt with this season, the Whites find themselves battling for their Premier League survival this term.
While the likes of Patrick Bamford, Kalvin Phillips and Liam Cooper work their way back to fitness, so much rests on the shoulders of Raphinha to help steer Leeds away from trouble.
Raphinha Looking for Early-Season Form
It has been a season of ups and downs for the Brazilian in his second campaign in the English top-flight at Elland Road.
In February, Raphinha got back on the scoresheet in a 4-2 defeat to rivals Manchester United, before Leeds suffered a 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Liverpool, who are 13/5 on Marathonbet.co.uk to win the Premier League title this season.
The South American has seemed to struggle to reach the heights of his early season form and was even dropped to the bench for the start of the game against the Red Devils. Manager Marcelo Bielsa has never been afraid to drop star players if they are not living up to expectations and perhaps the Argentine tactician is looking for a reaction.
With a tough run of games in February, Leeds will look to more winnable games over the next couple of months to try to avoid a nerve-racking final few matches of the season.
With nine goals in his first 23 games of the league campaign, Raphinha is the club’s leading goalscorer this term. Daniel James is next in the goal-scoring stats with four goals since his move from Old Trafford at the start of the year.
Until Bamford’s return, if he does become fit before the end of the season, Leeds will be hoping Raphinha can find his magic touch – which can be seen at Premierleague.com – again in the games to come.
Raphinha Can’t Do it Alone
While Leeds supporters will hope the Brazil international can pull off some match-winning performances, the West Yorkshire outfit will need more than strong performances from the former Rennes star.
After their hammering by Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool at Anfield, as reported on bbc.com, Leeds became the side to concede the most goals in the league with a frightening 56 passing keeper Ilian Meslier in 25 games.
On their way to reaching ninth place in their first Premier League campaign in 16 years, Leeds only conceded 54 goals in their 38 outings.
Losing skipper and Scotland international Cooper has clearly hurt the Whites, as has the injury to Phillips, who has shown for his club and England how effective he is at protecting a defence and winning the midfield battle.
While Leeds keeps looking to the horizon for the cavalry to come, they are not focusing on the ground sinking beneath their feet. Until their stars return, it might well take Raphinha’s skills to drag Leeds out of the mire.
By: Alessia Sofia
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / James Williamson – AMA / Getty Images Sport